Hamilton says Leclerc situation reminds him of 2007

Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton understands Charles Leclerc’s frustration with team orders at Ferrari, because feeling he had his “light dimmed” at McLaren in 2007 pushed him to “rebel”.

Hamilton says Leclerc situation reminds him of 2007

When Hamilton partnered two-time world champion Fernando Alonso in his rookie F1 season, his competitiveness sparked major conflict at McLaren and caused Alonso to leave the team after only one year.

The frustration was kickstarted by a team order that denied Hamilton the chance to win the Monaco Grand Prix at the first attempt (podium pictured top).

Leclerc is in his first season racing for Ferrari and has been subjected to team orders in all three races so far this year, including one to let teammate Sebastian Vettel by in the last race in China. 

Ahead of this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Hamilton said that being in a supporting role in an F1 team is a “privileged position” but “goes against your core value”.

“I understand how Charles feels because in his heart he’s the best, attempting to be the best, and it’s almost like having your light dimmed,” said Hamilton.

“As a racer, as a fierce competitor, you kind of rebel. They say to do one thing, but they are fighting you, so it pushes you the other way. I have experienced that.”

Hamilton said McLaren’s policy to give he and Alonso equal fuel loads after Monaco “justified the rebellious side I had” because it resulted in his first F1 win at the next race.

“From then on I just felt like I had more of a real chance to show my ability each weekend,” he added.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Sutton Images

Leclerc should have won in Bahrain earlier this year but finished third because of an electrical problem, while in Australia and China he was fifth because of orders that favoured Vettel.

Asked in Baku if he was impatient to get his first win, Leclerc said: “It’s not an obsession. 

“I’m impatient for this moment to happen – if it will ever happen. I’ll work for that. But I’m not obsessed with it. I don’t think it would be a good way to approach the weekends, only thinking about the winning.”

Leclerc believes the “potential” exists for him to beat Vettel over the course of the 2019 season. 

He said he will yield to further team orders in certain situations, having sought clarity from team boss Mattia Binotto and accepted Ferrari’s position. 

When Hamilton’s comments were put to him, Leclerc said: “It’s frustrating while you are in the car when you are told to let another driver past. 

“On the other hand, on my side, I understand them in a way. Seb is now in his fifth year in the team and has won four world championships. I am coming in my second season of Formula 1. I’ve got a lot of things to prove. 

“I think I just need to continue doing what I’m doing, trying to improve myself and hopefully it will change soon.”

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90, leads Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90, leads Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Sutton Images

shares
comments
Ferrari reveals upgrades to 2019 F1 car

Previous article

Ferrari reveals upgrades to 2019 F1 car

Next article

Mercedes brings serrated rear wing design back

Mercedes brings serrated rear wing design back
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Lewis Hamilton , Charles Leclerc
Author Scott Mitchell
Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Prime

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to Stuart Codling, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion.

Formula 1
May 15, 2021
How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean? Prime

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021